Sawaddee Ka (Hello in Thai)
Today marks two months since I packed my bags and left home for Thailand. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by.
So I guess I should write something about school, since it is the reason why I ended up here in Nan. I am a prathom (primary school) teacher at Bandon (Srisermkasikorn) School (say that five times fast). Sriserm has a mini-English program where the students receive English up to eight times a week with classes in general English, as well as math and science in English. I am the second and third grade mini-English program teacher. I also teach five, third grade classes that are not in the mini-English program once a week. It’s a lot of hours and mental energy and by the end of the week I am totally wiped.
In total, I probably have more than 250 students, all with nicknames such as “Prom,” “Nice,” “PhooPhub,” “Cable,” and of course “Ploy 1,” and “Ploy 2.” It took a while, but I only mix up Tonpan (a girl) and Tonnam (a boy) maybe once a week instead of every day. I am making progress.
I feel lucky (and I think the other fellows do too) that there have been Princeton in Asia fellows in Nan for twelve years now. It has made life a lot easier because we have so many resources and a curriculum already in place. The English curriculums are outlined and detailed, so all I have to do is do the day to day lesson planning. For math and science, I am following a textbook that I was given to me, but the science is (most of the time) too advanced for the students, and I am taking it nice and slow to teach them the vocabulary.
Teaching a third grader what respiration is difficult when
- English is not their first language and as third graders we are definitely not at “respiration” level words.
- I can barely remember what respiration is #englishmajor.
is definitely a daunting task. But… I’m getting through it. Recently, we have successfully navigated that plants need water, air, soil, and sun to survive and that plants need “just enough” water to grow or they will die. And yes, there is a bit of eye-rolling going on right now. But also they’re 8 years old.
At first, I thought, “This is silly, of course they know that plants need water,” but combined with teaching the meaning of the vocabulary in English and then actually getting the students to remember the words, it has taken a while. But that’s ok. Plus now I will be the best plant caretaker ever.
And the students definitely still drive me crazy. But they are ridiculously cute, which redeems them. Every. Single. Time. My third graders may not listen to me and run around the classroom, while I’m trying to teach, but then one will attempt to teach me how to properly say “noodle” in Thai and my heart melts. And yes, I said “My heart melts.” As in, Kara Hope Weinstein’s heart melted. As in these kids must be super damn cute because we all know, my heart doesn’t “melt” very easily.
These are my very silly second graders and third graders.
We really only have about 5 more weeks until the end of the first term and then I am off to Australia for 20 days!
Thanks for reading,